The premise of James J. Kaufman’s enthralling debut The Collectibles largely draws from life’s frailties and the power of human connections. In this regard, touching other people’s lives and changing them for the better plays a significant role throughout this captivating novel, teaching us a valuable lesson or two along the way.
An orphan hailing from the Adirondack mountains, Joe Hart is a self-made attorney highly-regarded and respected in his field. While on a hunting trip with his uncle when he was a teenager, Joe has once saved the life of a rich kid from New York, Preston Wilson, unaware at the time that their paths will cross once again in life.
Years later, fate sends Preston tracking Joe, the one attorney who might be able to save him from his impending financial failure. Joe reluctantly agrees but not without extracting a promise from Preston that he will fulfill an irrevocable condition. A desperate Preston agrees without giving it much thought.
As agreed, Joe strategically helps Preston turn his life around both financially and emotionally, and soon Joe summons Preston to call in his favor. Joe tells Preston that he must meet, get to know, earn the trust of and care for a group of his friends whom he referred to as his ‘collectibles’; Johnny, a mildly mentally challenged dishwasher, Missy, a former dancer in Las Vegas now working as a waitress who is a victim of domestic abuse, Tommy, who has a serious gambling problem, Harry, a professional photographer who is also bipolar, and Corey, a skillful carpenter at the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Joe tells Preston that each of his ‘collectibles’ has a serious personal problem and Joe has become involved in their problems. Now Joe asks Preston to take over what used to be his responsibility to take care of them. Does Preston really have a choice?
Drawing from his extensive experience in law, dealings in the world of business and his interaction with people from diverse backgrounds, Kaufman successfully crafts a tale that is as entertaining as it is inspiring. Not only are the ordinary characters easy to relate to but they create extraordinariness right out of their ordinary lives.
A thoroughly enjoyable work of modern day fiction, The Collectibles triumphs on all counts. The expertly-drawn plot-line will hook you right away and you will find excitement at every turn of the page. Do not miss this one!
Reviewed by Hamdhoon Rashad for Bookpleasures.com